Today 5/1/09 saw the fruition of determination and perseverance of Chinese education and the Chinese community in Malaysia. After more than eight years (2925 days), the closed Damansara Primary School at Kampong Baru Damansara, Petaling Jaya has been re-opened， although under a new name Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina Chong Hwa Damansara.
The school was force-closed by the Government on 3-1-2001 for unsubstantiated reasons: noise pollution, traffic jam and unsafe buildings. It robbed the villagers and families from surrounding area a school and language of their choice. The school was shifted to a new premises in Tropicana township a distance away. ( all reasons have been rebutted by Government itself by reopening the same school, and latest check on noise pollution proved to be acceptable despite heavier traffic 8 years later)
The villagers formed the SOS Damansara Committee (Save Our School) to fight for the re-open of the school. Meanwhile students who stayed back were moved to the Chinese temple next door to continue their study. The condition was deplorable but the parents and students soldiered on. The Chinese community responded by sending food supplies and material aid. Many teachers volunteered to teach. The present State Assemblyman of Kajang, Lee Lai Kim (Cikgu Lee) was one of them. Me and a group of friends from Kajang also donated materials and supplies to the school. When we made delivery to the school in 2002, then PAS President Nik Aziz and Lim Kit Siang were there too to lend their support.
March 8 General Election saw the change of the political landscape of Malaysia. MCA, thought to be the shit-stirrer and vested interest in the issue, has lost miserably. The UMNO-controlled Government understood the sentiments of the Chinese community, decided to reopen the school.
Deputy Prime Minister Najib on 3/1/09 Saturday, while officiating the New Year 2009 gathering organised by Chinese Youth Organisations in Putrajaya, said that "if the Government previously did not support Chinese organisations, then it is time to change. The Government should assist other communities and to implement policy fair to all....." He also reaffirmed the Chinese community the commitment of Government for the development of Chinese schools.
To the Chinese, language is the soul of the community. Using own language or the mother touge is the basic human right. No suppression or compromise is acceptable.
Perhaps the Catholic church in Malaysia can pick up a point or two from this incident. The Church should try harder to understand the Chinese speaking community (faithful). The language is always a sensitive issue even within the Catholic church. The Mandarin speaking community feels that conducting formation programme and organising activities in Mandarin are being restricted. The hierarchy views their activities with suspicion. The norm now is all must be done in four languages. The community is of the opinion that holding social gathering for all languages together is fine and good for interaction. But retreats, formations and spiritual sharing in four languages are Rojaks.... do not achieve the objectives at all. The community suffered. Growth is stunted. All under the guise of UNITY.
More leaders are of the opinion that the community are being suppressed and neglected. They complained that the Church is not giving attention and focus on the evangelisation to the Chinese speaking society at large in proportionate to the population. The Church blamed the Chinese speaking for not responding to the call of vocation to the priesthood. Statistic has proven that it is the language policy of the Church that discouraged or blocked the Chinese-educated youths taking this path.
In the sixties and seventies, the Government associated the Chinese schools and Chinese language with Communism. In the eighties and nineties, they blamed them as the obstacle to unity. Today, it has changed. History has proven the Chinese schools and Chinese language have had contributed to our nation building. Chinese (Chinese educated) are loyal citizens of the country.
In June 2008, the Herald reported on a dialogue session held in Penang Diocese between the Bishop and the Penang Diocesan Chinese language Apostolate. In his speech, Vicar General (VG) Monsignor Stephen Liew reminded the Chinese community to learn from the March 8 General Election. He warned the community not to raise the issue of language on Mass, meeting, formation programme and so on. Unity meant no language issue. A strong response was sent to Herald on this issue by some Chinese speaking leaders but has not been published. (due to print deadline).
I excused the VG for his ignorance and for not being a man of wisdom. He should not have said so to the Chinese community or he should have said so but to his boss, the Bishop - the Hierarchy.
Luckily he is a Chinese, otherwise he will be termed as a Chauvinist or a racist. But I don't think he has a heart for things Chinese. He and the Church must accept the Chinese as they are, in culture and language.
In a meeting with Archbishop three years ago to brief him on the Chinese-speaking Legion Fellowship held in KL, I assured him that the Chinese-speaking are faithful to their religion and loyal to the Church. They should be appreciated and trusted, and be allowed more space to organise programmes in their own language.
Unity in diversity. But just and equal are the key words.
A lesson for all ( including Government & Hierarchy) : Listen to the voice of the people!
今天， 5/1/2009 见证了华教及华社的坚定意志，刚勇能耐开花结果了。超过八年 （2925天）的抗争和奋斗，被关闭的白沙罗新村华文小学（白小）终于被政府重开，虽然校名改成『白沙罗中华小学』，但这不是很重要的。重要的是，这所被关闭的小学，今天能够重开，造福居民。
村民及家长们组成了一个“救白小 SOS 保校工委会”，为争取学校重开展开斗争。在此同时，那些愿留下来的学生们，被转移到隔壁的神庙及货柜继续他们的学业。糟透的环境，可想而知，但他们坚持的争取及盼望学校重开的一天。这事件引起了华社的响应，整个华社及华团慷慨捐献伙食 、物资等来支持该校及学生。许多教师也献身义务教学。现在加影州议员李成金（Cikgu Lee) 就是其中一个。我和加影的一些朋友也捐出物资给予支持。在2002年我们带送物资去时，也碰巧遇上当时的回教党主席聂阿兹及行动党党魁林吉祥到场支持。
副首相纳吉在3/1/09 年于布城出席华青2009新年团拜的时候说：假如政府以前没有支持华人团体，现在是改变的时候了。政府会协助其他族群，也实行对每个种族公平的政策。。”。 他也重申政府继续发展华校的承诺。
本地的天主教会可以从这事件中，吸取一些要点。教会应该更努力的去了解说华语的信友群。在教会里，语言也是一个敏感的课题。说华语的信众们感觉到以华语举办培训及活动，已经越来越受到限制了。圣统常以怀疑的眼光来看待这些活动。现在的走向是任何活动，都以四语言来进行为策。华语信众非常赞同以这方式 举办联谊活动，但假如主办避静,培训灵修分享等，这就变成“拉杂” - 四不像，不能达到目的和收到功效了。 所以教友领袖普遍上认为华文信众团体停滞不前，没有成长。这些都是以“团结”之名施行的。
今年六月，教会的前锋报报道了槟城教区主办的主教与槟城华文教务处教会对话的新闻。文章记载了刘副主教对他们说：你们应该从三 、八大选中学到教训，不要提语言的问题。意即不要提出华语弥撒 、集会 、培训等单语言的活动。团结就是没有语言课题。当时引起了外地华文领袖的回应，他们写信到前锋报给予驳斥，但可能因印刷的时限，而不被刊登。
SOS Damansara Video on Youtube 救白小录影